Navigating the ins and outs of a professional wardrobe during any season, especially summer, can be a real challenge for women. Over the last few months I’ve been learning about this very topic from Jo-Ann Fisher and the team at the women’s clothing boutique Fisher & Company and Accents by Fisher & Company. The team is sponsoring my wardrobe for a new business focused TV show I’m hosting this fall. So in the process, I’ve learned a few things that I figure will be helpful for other professional women too. Here are some tips from my wardrobe adventure so far:
1. Don’t forget your legs.
The idea of wearing nylons on a hot summer’s day may seem like torture, but there are times in professional situations when it’s a requirement. Jo-Ann suggests that in the heat women should wear a lower danier stocking, which refers to the thickness of the nylon. A cool summer sheer could be as low as an 8 or 15 denier, whereas a typical nylon would be 20 or 40, tights are even higher. If you choose not to cover your legs in the office, then be sure they are smooth, shaven and free of cuts and bruises. For the 99% of us who don’t have model like legs, she recommends using a foundation or tanning agent to give a more polished look that can complete the outfit.
2. Ignore the trends, unless they work for you.
While fashion may be fun to look at, it’s not always appropriate to wear. The key is to be sure you’re in the right look given your personality and lifestyle. There are some things that look great on the rack, but just won’t work in real life. Lisa Ferguson, who is celebrating 3 years in business at Accents by Fisher and Company is the first to suggest that 4 inch spike heels may not be a practical choice if you’re standing all day. Instead, choose a fashionable flat or lower heel. You can also wear a more comfortable shoe on the way to and from events or the office and then wear the fancy ones when you want to look your best. For me, that means choosing the right shoe for stage or on set, but will make a point to have an alternative pair for driving and walking to the location.
3. Plan in advance.
If you walk into any retail location you can see that fall wardrobe is in full swing. It may seem early, but the benefit of shopping now is that you can make wise choices that complement the pieces you already have hanging in your closet.
If mid-August seems early for Fall fashions, try choosing Falls’ fashions last May. It was in May that we ordered my new Joeffer Cadoc wardrobe at his “trunk show”. A trunk show was a new concept to me. It basically means that designers swing through town with samples of their garments for the next season. By ordering in advance, you have the foundation of your wardrobe already decided and then you can build from there with confidence. Choosing the main outfits in advance, made it easier to choose which shoes and boots would be needed for fall and so my second trunk show was for Stuart Weitzman. It was the least “reactive” shopping experience I’ve ever had. It also feels weird to order and leave the store without anything in hand, but then it’s fun to pick it up!
4. Invest in a quality foundation.
In today’s economy, we all want to stretch a buck as far as we can. The idea of spending big money on a suit can seem like too big of a leap for some; however, Jo-Ann explained that it’s better to invest in a high-quality foundational wardrobe and then mix and match with less expensive pieces. For example, they have a program where nine pieces can actually create 36 different outfit combinations. The natural tendency is to buy 36 different outfits separately, rather than integrating the same pieces together with accessories. The higher quality pieces generally wear better so while you may spend more up front, overall you’ll spend less because you have fewer pieces that can last longer.
Regardless of your budget or your favourite store, being strategic means you can avoid the all too familiar – and very expensive – story of having impulse purchases hanging in the closet with tags still intact long after the purchase.
What are your tips for developing a professional, well-put-together wardrobe?
Categories: Allison Graham